The past tense in the Croatian language, interrogative
...or how to ask if somebody DID something

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The past centuries of Croatian history are so interesting and if you are of Croatian origin, I’m sure you would like to know as much as you can about the history of your family. In order to do that in Croatian, you probably want to know how to make questions in the past in the Croatian language. So, here we go… Let’s learn some Croatian! 🙂

If you have already read our previous posts about tenses in Croatian…

The past tense in the Croatian language, affirmative 
The past tense in the Croatian language, negative
The present tense of the verb biti (to be) in the Croatian language, affirmative 
The present tense of the verb biti (to be) in the Croatian language, negative
The present tense of the verb biti (to be) in the Croatian language, interrogative
The present tense in the Croatian language, affirmative 
The present tense in the Croatian language, negative 
The present tense in the Croatian language, interrogative 
The future tense in the Croatian language, affirmative 
The future tense in the Croatian language, negative 
The future tense in the Croatian language, interrogative 

…you can probably guess how to make a question in the past tense, and don’t even need this blog post. But just in case, to confirm your brilliance, here is how it goes…

INTERROGATIVE PAST TENSE = INTERROGATIVE BITI (TO BE) + MAIN VERB with one of the following endings:

Singular: -O (masculine) / -LA (feminine) / -LO (neuter)
Plural:     -LI (masculine) / -LE (feminine) / -LA (neuter)

Here are the interrogative forms of the verb biti (to be), just as a reminder:

Glagol biti – upitni oblik
The verb to be – interrogative form
Jednina
Singular
Množina
Plural
1. Jesam li (ja)? 1. Jesmo li (mi)?
2. Jesi li (ti)? 2. Jeste li (vi)?
3. Je li (on)?
Je li (ona)?
Je li (ono)?
3. Jesu li (oni)?
Jesu li (one)?
Jesu li (ona)?

Step two, the same as in the affirmative and negative form, is adding the matching ending to the main , as shown in the scheme above:  -O (masculine) / -LA (feminine) / -LO (neuter) for singular, or  -LI (masculine) / -LE (feminine) / LA for plural.

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And finally, let’s have a look at what the interrogative form of the past tense in Croatian looks like, using the verb učiti (to learn) as an example:

Perfekt glagola učiti – upitni oblik
The past tense of the verb to learn – interrogative form
Jednina
Singular
Množina
Plural
1. Jesam li (ja) učio? Did I learn? (m.) 1. Jesmo li (mi) učili? Did we learn? (m.)
Jesam li (ja) učila? Did I learn? (f.) Jesmo li (mi) učile? Did we learn? (f.)
2. Jesi li (ti) učio? Did you learn? (m.) 2. Jeste li (vi) učili? Did you learn? (m.)
Jesi li (ti) učila? Did you learn? (f.) Jeste li (vi) učile? Did you learn? (f.)
3. Je li (on) učio? Did he learn? (m.) 3. Jesu li (oni) učili? Did they learn? (m.)
Je li (ona) učila? Did she learn? (f.) Jesu li (one) učile? Did they learn? (f.)
Je li (ono) učilo?* Did it learn? (n.) Jesu li (ona) učila? Did they learn? (n.)

*In Croatian, ono (it) does not refer to an object, but to any neuter noun, even if it means a person, like dijete (child). So, Je li (ono) učilo? can mean Je li dijete učilo?

For example:

Jesam li (ja) plivao? (m.) / Jesam li (ja) plivala? (f.) Did I swim?
Jesi li (ti) kuhao? (m.) / Jesi li (ti) kuhala? (f.) Did you cook?
Je li (on) radio? Did he work?
Je li (ona) čitala? Did she read?
Jesmo li (mi) pjevali? (m.) / Jesmo li (mi) pjevale? (f.) Did we sing?
Jeste li (vi) plesali? (m.) / Jeste li (vi) plesale? (f.) Did you dance?
Jesu li (oni) mislili? Did they think? (m. or m.+f.)
Jesu li (one) putovale? Did they travel? (f.)
stick-speak-cro49

So, the subject can be left out here as well? 

Yes. If you read our posts regularly, then you already know that you can drop the (e.g. ti, vi, oni, Ana, Ivan…) from all forms of sentences – affirmative, negative or interrogative – in all tenses, as long as it’s clear from the context who the subject is. Check links to all tenses (above) if you want to refresh your knowledge. 

Can you form a question using the past tense? What are you going to ask your Croatian relatives or friends?

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Learning Croatian continues… Next Tuesday we are learning about how to change personal pronouns in the Croatian language through cases. If you want us to send you an email with the next Croatian grammar lesson, put your email address here.

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